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date: 07 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter considers the development of the idea of the ecumenical goal as one of unity in reconciled diversity. From the 1920s, the ecumenical movement was committed to a visible unity, generally understood as requiring organic union. Confession was seen as opposed to oikoumene. However, particularly as a result of the many bilateral dialogues between the confessions that began following the entry of the Roman Catholic Church into the ecumenical movement after the Second Vatican Council, a rethinking of the value of confessions occurred. The dialogues have often achieved a differentiated consensus which does not abolish all differences but removes their church-dividing character, and the idea of unity in reconciled diversity has correspondingly taken shape. Examining that idea and responding to various critiques of it, the chapter maintains that it can be seen as fully compatible with the formula of unity agreed by the World Council of Churches at New Delhi in 1961.

Keywords: visible unity, unity in reconciled diversity, organic union, differentiated consensus, goal, confession, oikoumene, ecumenical movement

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